We are getting ready for our annual family vacation. We’ve been taking a summer vacation since 1999 when our youngest was just 18 months old. That summer we went to Arizona to visit my brother and his family and took in the Grand Canyon. It was a great trip and gave us the vacation bug. We followed that with trips to Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods and Royal Gorge, Mt. Rushmore and the Black Hills, Camping in Wisconsin, lounging in the Lake of the Ozarks, Estes Park Colorado (two years in a row- with extenuating circumstances), San Diego, and last year to Washington DC and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
I’m a little particular about my vacations. We always drive. This started out of necessity. We had 3 small children and not a lot of money. But, more importantly, I don’t want to skip part of the country by flying over it. The midwest is often called the flyover zone and that bugs me! There is so much to see and do; people to meet and experiences to enjoy. I have this secret little goal to visit all 50 states, and I have it for my kids too. I want them to have seen a lot of this great country by the time they head off into the great big world. I want them to have a taste of the flavor of different regions of the country and to understand the people, traditions and values of different regions. I’m proud of the experiences they have had and proud that we’ve done it without spending a fortune.
We do make choices on every vacation. It may be the decision to camp vs. staying in a hotel. Or like in San Diego, choosing our top 4-5 things to do from all the opportunities that are there. We try to do things we can’t do back home; chose the new experience over the much loved. It has made for some really good times. In Wisconsin we watched the boats go through the lock and dam and played horseshoes and lots of cards. In Estes Park we made lots of jewelry and climbed the boulders. We have enjoyed every trip for different reasons. And most locations have left us wanting to return. But we can’t go back. There is entirely to much land to cover in these United States. The one exception we made was to return to Estes Park. We went one year with a group from our church and had a fabulous time at the Y of the Rockies. We went back the following year with nearly all of my family to celebrate my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Otherwise it’s one and done for our family.
To date Dan and I have been to 31 and 30 states respectively and the kids have been to 23. That’s close to half the states, not too bad for teens.